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Quoting Newman on the Veneration of Images [Cath-Orth caucus]
The Way of Beauty ^ | November 6, 2012 | David Clayton

Posted on 11/10/2012 7:48:08 AM PST by annalex

Quoting the Eminently Quotable – Newman on the Veneration of Images

by David Clayton on November 6, 2012

I am currently reading a new book on Newman which has recently come to my notice. It is The Quotable Newman – Definitive Guide to His Central Thoughts and Ideas. Published by Sophia Press it is compiled by Dave Armstrong with a forward written by Joseph Pearce.

It is arranged by topic in alphabetical order, over 100 of them taken from 40 different documents, and under each topic, for example, Original Sin, the Fall of Man there are a series of quotations, usually up to a couple of paragraphs long on each topic. To someone like me who does not know the full body of Newman’s well (to put it mildly) this arrangement is helpful. It seems to me that I can access directly and quickly what Newman actually said and then if I wish to investigate further, seek elsewhere the document in full via the reference. This is otherwise difficult because the titles of the documents do not always tell you what he is speaking about eg Letter to the Duke of Norfolk.

So, from the section Images, Use and Veneration Of, I have a couple of things that caught my eye: ‘In England Catholics pray before images, not to them. I wonder whether as many as a dozen pray to them, but they will be the best Catholics, not ordinary ones. The truth is that sort of affectionate fervour which leads one to confuse an object with its representation, is skin-deep in the South and argues nothing for a worshipper’s faith, hope and charity, whereas in a Northern race like ours, with whom ardent devotional feeling is not common, it may be the mark of great spirituality. As to the nature of the feeling itself, and its absolute incongruity with any intellectual intention of addressing the image as an image, I think that it is not difficult for anyone with an ordinary human heart to understand it. Do we not love the pictures we have of friends departed?… Will not a husband wear in his bosom and kiss the miniature of his wife? Cannot you fancy a man addressing himself to it, as it were reality?’ [p191, taken from Letter to William Robert Brownlow, 25 October, 1863]

I cannot comment on the differences between northern and southern Catholics, but I think his observation about many of the Catholics I see is still very true today. The contrast between how Eastern Catholics, such as the Melkites, engage with the images of the saints as they pray to them, struck me long ago. The Easterners tend to turn and facing them as though the person was there and addressing the saint by looking at his face – this becomes part of the activity of liturgical worship. Whereas, in the Roman Rite churches, even if beautifully adorned, there is much less obvious direct engagement with the image. Even if Mary’s image is there, I don’t see people looking at her as they pray and when she is addressed by name in the same way. It isn’t the only way to pray of course and there are devotions in which the image is an integral part, such as the Stations of the Cross; but the general lack is telling, I think. This is something that I think has a profound effect on the culture. The the more our senses, including the visual, are engaged directly during prayer with beauty that supports and intensifies our prayer, not only will it encourage the right interior disposition, but it profoundly forms our taste and sense of the beautiful, so changing what we choose and delight in outside the church. This, I believe, is how the culture of faith and wider culture can be powerfully connected again. In the Spirit of the Liturgy, Pope Benedict XVI talks of this separation of the two cultures and how serious this is. He says that this happened by the 19th century, when Newman lived.

 

 

 



TOPICS: Catholic; Orthodox Christian; Prayer; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 11/10/2012 7:48:15 AM PST by annalex
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To: Salvation; narses; NYer

For your pinging pleasure.


2 posted on 11/10/2012 7:49:07 AM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: annalex
Byzantine Catholics use icons instead of statues. But there is no confusion that I am aware of between the image and the one represented. They are merely representations of the person portrayed. Most "real" Christians can make the distinction easily, much like enjoying looking at a photo of a departed spouse, parent, or child.

Prayer before an icon is restful, quiet, and the image helps us keep our attention on God as we pray. An "icon corner" is something like a little "church," a place set aside in the home for prayer and peace.

3 posted on 11/10/2012 10:17:48 AM PST by redhead (Brought to you by the letter "O" and the number $16,000,000,000,000)
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To: redhead
there is no confusion

That is what Newman is arguing also. The confusion, I think, is a rhetorical ploy to argue against veneration of saints in general by claiming that it is idolatrous.

But I agree both with blessed John Newman and David Clayton that there is a difference between the attitude and perception -- not a theological difference, but difference of disposition that exists between the North-West and South-East. I don't know if it is conditioned by the memory of iconoclasm, so vivid still in the North-West, where it remains a matter of theological dispute among Christians, but long forgotten in Mediterranean south; or perhaps by the temperamental differences.

I am inclined to thing it is a defensive reaction against theological criticism, especially among the Catholic British who had to hide their devotions till relatively recently in historical perspective. That is because the Russians, -- the race I know more than a casual thing about -- are Nordic by temperament but treat their icons like family members. Of course, in Russia iconoclasm, while very recent, was mere atheist brutality without any earnest theological concern we are familiar with in the West, -- so the Russians had to hide their icons rather than modify behavior once in the presence of icons.

If my hypothesis is correct, then so much more important is the task of evangelizing the West through Catholic, and especially through Byzantine art. If we do that, our faith in the West will regain the innocence of a child, with which an Easter Christian kisses his icon.

4 posted on 11/10/2012 12:18:05 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: annalex
Will not a husband wear in his bosom and kiss the miniature of his wife?

He's joking, right?

5 posted on 11/10/2012 12:22:04 PM PST by Tax-chick ("Build the America you want to live in at your address, and keep looking up." ~marron)
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To: annalex
Quoting Newman on the Veneration of Images [Cath-Orth caucus]
Icons as useful aids for attaining holiness
6 Things to Know About the “Miracle of the Holy Fire”
Lesson 27: On The Sacramentals (Baltimore Catechism) (Catholic Caucus)
The Medal of St. Benedict
The Sacramental You've Never Heard Of [Blessed Salt]
Radio Replies First Volume - Holy Water

Orthodox mark 'Holy Fire' of Easter in Jerusalem
Cross, Sign Of
Liturgical Vestments (and prayers the priest says while vesting for Mass)
Vestments… Tools of the Liturgical Trade! [Ecumenical]
The story behind the white and yellow colors of the Vatican flag
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, Scapulars [Ecumenical]
The Sacrifice of the Mass: Liturgical Vestments
Of Miters and Men (brief look at symbolism of bishop's vestments) [Ecumenical]
Purification of Sacred Vessels in U.S. (and more on the Purification of our Lord)
Why We Need Sacred Art

Being Catholic: Sacred Things, [Holy] Water
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, [New] Fire, Paschal Candle
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, Holy Oils
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, Crucifixes and Crosses
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, Sacred Images: Statues and Other Icons
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, Incense
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, Palm Branches
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, Ashes
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, Relics and the Incorruptibles
Baltimore Catechism: On the Sacramentals (Catholic Caucus)

6 posted on 11/10/2012 12:31:19 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Tax-chick

It seems like yesterday that husbands had bosoms.


7 posted on 11/10/2012 12:33:09 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: annalex
"I am inclined to thing it is a defensive reaction against theological criticism..."

I think there's a lot of validity to your hypotheses, but I think there's something far more basic at work as well: literacy.

Prior to Gutenberg, and really, for some time after, reading and writing were esoteric skills reserved for clerics and nobles. The vast majority of Christian laity was instructed through the visual representations of sculpture, fresco, icons, stained glass, etc.

I don't think there's any accident the Reformation took place within the wake of the printing press and the widespread dissemination of religious treatises to an increasingly literate laity.

What I find curious is that many of the iconoclasts who preach Sola Scriptura fail to recognize that every letter in virtually every alphabet had its origin as some type of pictographic represention. They are perfectly content with a few million ink molecules on a written page that pictographically represent the concept, "GOD," but they become highly uncomfortable, if not downright hostile to a few million paint molecules on a poplar panel that pictographically represent the identical concept.

8 posted on 11/10/2012 12:39:13 PM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Joe 6-pack

Note that this is a caucus thread, not a polemical thread attacking other confessions.

The printing press was available at roughly the same time to all of Europe; certainly it alone cannot account for the difference between an Italian’s immediate immersion in the image and the Englishman’s detachment from it.


9 posted on 11/10/2012 1:02:05 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: annalex
"Note that this is a caucus thread, not a polemical thread attacking other confessions."

Noted with forgiveness begged.

"The printing press was available at roughly the same time to all of Europe; certainly it alone cannot account for the difference between an Italian’s immediate immersion in the image and the Englishman’s detachment from it."

And I was in no way implying that it is the exclusive explanation, merely submitting it as one of many factors; however, the spread of the press was largely a phenomenon which initially expanded north and west:


10 posted on 11/10/2012 1:14:25 PM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Joe 6-pack

How does the map prove it?

1450’s: Central Germany
1460’s: Most Germany, Paris, Rome, Venice, Bologna, Naples
1470’s: Same plus England, Low Countries, Spain, whole of France
After that, everywhere.

If anything, the early adopters seems to be Italy, — “hot” temperament and Germany — “medium cold”. The late adopters are likewise “hot” like Spain and “cold” like England.


11 posted on 11/10/2012 2:07:52 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: annalex
Look at the volume of output. Rome, Naples, Venice - high output early on, but no immediate growth in the area afterwards. Similarly, when you look at things temporally, there's a "pile up" in northern Italy and the Italian alps, with some minor latent activity around the Adriatic, and nothing into the Balkans, or around the Mediterranean rim. Meanwhile, Stocklholm comes into play in the same decade as Antwerp and Vienna, with additional proliferation throught sparsely populated Scandinavia in the subsequent decade(s).

There's been ample scholarship on the dawn of the press and the reformation, to the point I don't think it's really that debateable. I merely added as a corrolary, that the established visual vocabulary of Christian/Roman Catholic and Orthodox iconography held firm in regions where the printing press (and presumably the literacy rate) were delayed, whereas in areas where printing (and presumably literacy) caught hold (and coincidentally, so did much of the reformation), the emphasis on "the Book" lessened the emphasis on the visual as a means and method of religious instruction.

12 posted on 11/10/2012 2:32:17 PM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: annalex
Here's a better illustration with the source link:

Literacy - Encyclopedia of European Social History

13 posted on 11/10/2012 2:40:46 PM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: annalex

LOL!

But seriously, I can see doing such a thing with a picture of your child or parent, so maybe I’m just not as romantic about marriage as Cdl. Newman was.


14 posted on 11/10/2012 2:56:24 PM PST by Tax-chick ("Build the America you want to live in at your address, and keep looking up." ~marron)
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To: Joe 6-pack

I still don’t see anything from the first map other than regions more advanced culturally, like Germany and Italy were also centers of printed book publishing.

Note that the symbolism of colored dots prevents the map from expressing the fact that a center prominent, say, in 1460’s, like Venice remained prominent in 1670’s and beyond as well.

The second map is from a different time frame, and it does show that mass literacy spread to “cold” countries first.

So would you summarize: “hot” temperament likes the image and “cold” temperament likes text? And that further, “hot” temperament is Catholic and “cold” temperament — Protestant?


15 posted on 11/10/2012 3:14:06 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: annalex
"So would you summarize: “hot” temperament likes the image and “cold” temperament likes text? And that further, “hot” temperament is Catholic and “cold” temperament — Protestant?"

I wouldn't quite put it that way in those terms, although I think that hints at an underlying truth. I would think a more precise summary is that for roughly the first 1500 years of the Church (and by that I'll include both Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy), overwhelming rates of illiteracy meant that the laity took their instruction in the Bible from literate clerics. This instruction was augmented, enhanced and reinforced through the use of visual cues: icons, stained glass, statuary, etc. For those unable to read the Scriptures, these symbols, coupled with the learned instruction became the source of faith knowledge for the laity. Needless to say, great import was placed upon them.

Now, completely regardless of whether one considers the 15th Century advent of the printing press and the 16th Century reformation to be causally related or entirely coincidental, literacy grew much more rapidly in areas that embraced protestantism. The new protestant laity had far less need for image based instruction as both the literacy of the laity, and the availability of the printed word would have allowed the protestant to merely "follow along" with the readings at the service. Hence, the role religious imagery played in the protestant churches would have become far less important and indeed eventually marginalized.

As I indicated above, I'm not suggesting this as an all encompassing or comprehensive explanation of Newman's observations as I would be the first to concur that there were many other factors at play; however, I think it's significant enough of a factor that it can't be ignored.

16 posted on 11/10/2012 3:36:09 PM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Joe 6-pack
Yes.

However, a question can be asked: would a difference in temperament, Nordic vs Mediterranean explain the very adoption of both literacy and Protestantism? After all, it is not like the Spaniards or the Greeks could not figure out the ideas of the Reformers; there was something that made then not like them instinctively. Likewise:



Smolensk Mother of God

I look at this, and I do not need to read anything about it. It is sufficient, complete, and configures my soul onto Christ all by itself. If someone wanted to explain the icon to me, I would not be receptive to it. I may be curious -- I in fact enjoy studying iconography and can be quite pedantic about it, but it would not feel necessary; I get the icon just by looking at it. That is a "hot" temperament, at least as far as it is applied to iconodoulia (I am otherwise a very calm "Nordic" man).

17 posted on 11/10/2012 4:08:24 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: annalex
"I get the icon just by looking at it."

You've been trained in Christian iconography...so, just like a native English reader, you would glean all sorts of information from a road sign written in English, but the identical sign written in Hangul...not so much.

I'm sure I visualize that icon in much the same way you do. It clearly speaks of Christ born of the Virgin, the presence of the Divine as well as the simple human tenderness inherent in the mother and child relationship. To one devoid of that visual vocabulary, it's a giant woman, holding a small balding man with plates behind their heads.

While you and I 'get' and appreciate the faith based context and content, the human tenderness and pathos is equally present in a secular rendering of Picasso's Mother and Child:

The 'nordics', using the term loosely for northern Europeans, had rich visual traditions, predating Christianity, albeit in many cases, more abstract than representative. Take for example this Viking carving...

Even into the Christian era, northern art while cruder, was often wonderfully expressive with extreme pathos:

Curiously, with the reformation, press, and northern Renaissance, even northern Catholic artists continued with the more emotional, mystical subject matter. Grunewald painted this roughly contemporaneous to Luther's 95 Theses:

Subsequently, northern art became increasingly secularized, mundane and worldly in its subject matter. My contention therefore is it's not particularly anything inherent in the climate, genetics, language, etc., as in the pre-Christian and pre-reformation eras, northern artists were fully willing and capable of highly expressive, spiritual subject matter. Something shifted in their choice of subject matter and the manner in which they chose to portray it, and that something was roughly contemporaneous to the advent of protestantism and widespread dissemination of the printed word.

I would contend that as literacy spread, predominantly in the north, holy imagery became less and less an integral and essential element of religious instruction in some areas with a resulting de-emphasis on them. In other areas, where literacy grew less rapidly, the tradition remained essential, and became increasingly ingrained as a fundamental aspect of religious instruction, understanding, and ritual.

18 posted on 11/10/2012 4:53:51 PM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Joe 6-pack
Indeed, it is more mysterious than southern vivaciousness versus northern morosity. The icon, after all, is Russian, the gloomiest nation on earth. This is why I put "hot" and "cold" in quotes.

Further, it is not to deny the North artistic genius. It is, if anything, the Italians who created modern sensual but despiritualized art.

How about this:

At around AD 1500, the Christian Civilization took a turn from the synthetic to the analytic. Things became compartmentalized into: this is art, that is spiritual, and that is decorative. Also, this is church, that is state. This is business, that is charity. Art goes to museums, spiritual goes to churches, decoration is used but ignored. Art in church is very nice but it really belongs to a museum. A cross in a museum is a historical artifact, with a label. The Nelson-Atkins museum in KC has a full-wall altar and a finger of St. John the Baptist; I am the only one there praying. The ability to talk to an icon was lost, and with it the art of prayer was lost.

The Smolensk icon is one of the less popular ones, with Christ shown ageless. I studied it, so I know. But one who has not studied looking at it still sees a mystery, like you said, giant woman with a small balding man. That's it: the sign that is the the thing signed. Look in awe.

19 posted on 11/10/2012 6:40:12 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: annalex

Well said annalex. I was about to write something very similar only adding that my literacy in no way impedes my love, and usage of icons in my spiritual life.


20 posted on 11/11/2012 7:40:28 PM PST by arielguard (Fasting without prayer is vainglory.)
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To: arielguard; Joe 6-pack
my literacy in no way impedes my love, and usage of icons in my spiritual life

Indeed. I, too, am literate.

It is a false dichotomy. I think that in AD 1500-2000 our civilization had an illness: a disbalance of the analytical; its most current symptom is scientism: a belief that science provides a sum total of knowledge and superstition alone is beyond. But the faith survived: the Catholic Church, for sure, is doing fine, if you look at the big picture.

21 posted on 11/12/2012 5:32:18 AM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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